How do you know if the marketing strategy you’ve developed for the launch of a new service or initiative will work? You don’t – not until you try it. However, keeping three words top-of-mind as you develop your strategy can help. Educate. Engage. Empower.
Why these three words? Marketing strategy should educate the audience, engage them to make a decision and empower them to take action. This is the formula I use, and have used, throughout my entire career. It guides your audience through a process – whether it is a few short steps or a more complex journey. Let’s look at how these three words fit into the anatomy of an integrated marketing strategy, using the launch of a patient portal as an example.
Introducing your patients to an online portal which gives them access to important pieces of their patient history – their medical records, appointment scheduling, test results, prescription history, for example – is a big change in their traditional interactions with you. For them to embrace its use, they need to see what’s in it for them. They need to be educated. Your objective is to put yourself in the shoes of the patient – what do you need to know and understand before you would start to use this new technology?
- What is the patient portal called?
- How does a patient use the patient portal?
- What can be accessed on it?
- Why is it important for the patient to access that information?
- It is going to change my communication with the clinic – do I need to use it?
If you can answer those questions, you’ve started the education process. The answers can be provided in a variety of forms: printed materials, like brochures or FAQ documents; videos; and blogs, to name a few. The next step is to engage the patient with the educational information you’ve provided.
Engagement can take on many forms, and happens both inside your walls as well as outside. Some examples of promoting internal engagement include:
- Creating a process to introduce your patients to the portal. Have brochures and FAQ documents readily available at their appointments.
- Looking at your staff’s workflow and seeing where it makes sense to introduce the portal to the patients.
- Training your staff to talk about the new portal and how it will be helpful to the patients. Give your staff a script with the key talking points. Encourage your staff to set up their own portal accounts so they can speak to patients from a place of experience.
- Putting posters in your exam rooms and public areas with the benefits of the portal outlined on them.
External engagement can include:
- Advertisements and social media posts introducing the portal and its benefits, with a link to your website for a more in-depth description of the service. Will the message work well on TV, radio, print or social media – or all of them? Throughout all of your efforts, reinforce where the patient can access the educational information you’ve developed and how to take the next step – whether that is accessing their portal, creating an account or simply asking for additional information and clarification.
- Offer live Q & A sessions – either in person as a public seminar or as a Facebook Live video or other interactive medium that fits your needs.
- Produce a video tutorial showing how to sign up and navigate the information available.
As you can see, the education and engagement of a specific strategy can include many opportunities, formats and distribution channels. Regardless of the channel, the message, visuals, and direction must be consistent.
When a patient is ready to make a decision that is right for them, they’ve reached the point of empowerment. They are empowered to sign up for the service and begin to use it in their healthcare management. Your call-to-action has worked.
In other words, you laid the groundwork through educating them about the service. They became engaged through internal and external communication channels and interactions. Finally, you’ve empowered them to take an action – create an account on your patient portal.
Anatomy of Marketing Strategy
Let’s simplify this idea even further – if you are developing an element of an integrated campaign such as an advertisement, educate, engage and empower work in this way:
Educate – What is the ad promoting? Is it a specific service or upcoming seminar?
Engage – The message should encourage interest or be persuasive towards the desired result.
Empower – Include a clear call to action – what do you want the audience to do?
Focusing on their needs and wants and reminding them that this is THEIR decision to make – that you are there to help as they need – empowers them to make the decision that is best for them, without feeling coerced or pressured to make one decision over another.
In healthcare, you want your patients or clients to know and trust you and your service. When that trust exists, the relationship between provider and patient is stronger, their health outcomes and quality of care are received positively. In the end, your healthcare brand is perceived well in the market and your market share increases.
Remember to educate, engage and empower through your marketing efforts. In the end, the value of the relationship will be well worth the effort.